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Board puts kibosh on pot production at port

There will be no pot production on port property.

That was the decision of the Port of Bremerton board of commissioners this week when they passed a resolution banning the cultivation, distribution, sale or use of marijuana on port property.

The rational for the decision, commissioners said, is that while marijuana is now legal in the state of Washington under Initiative 502 which was passed by voters last year, marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

Fred Salisbury, director of operations for the port, told commissioners that when there is inconsistency between local, state and federal laws regarding criminal activity, the port has always complied with the most restrictive law. In this case, that’s the federal ban of marijuana.

“The Port of Bremerton has required and will continue to require tenants on port property to comply with all applicable local, state and federal laws,” he said. “Based on current federal law, no port tenant shall cultivate, store, distribute,sell or use marijuana on port property.”

Port officials said they were addressing the matter because one of the port’s properties, the Olympic View Industrial Park, is within an area designated by the Washington State Liquor Control Board as a possible place where marijuana businesses can operate.

“Producers target industrial areas,” Salisbury said.

But with the action of commissioners this week, that won’t happen.

“The world is an ever-changing place,” said Commissioner Axel Strakeljahn. “But for the time being we need to take this action.”

Commissioners also heard an update from Bob Wise, the consultant hired to fill the Bremerton Marina.

Wise told the board that while the “two for one” deal (one month paid, one month free for two years) that was offered and had helped bring boats to the marina has expired, he has another idea.

He said he wants to create the Olympic Peninsula Cruising Club, based at the Bremerton Marina. The cruising club would operate like a yacht club with exchange docking privileges with other area marinas, but would not require dues, meetings or the “politics” of a yacht club.

“Yacht clubs have their advantages,” he said. “But they don’t appeal to all. The name can be intimidating.”

In this cruising club, anyone with permanent moorage at the Bremerton Marina would be able to stay without charge at member-marinas. Currently those are at Gig Harbor, the Pleasant Harbor Marina on the Hood Canal and the Port Townsend Bay Marina.

He said a typical two-night stay could run a boater $100, and that under the plan there would be no charge.

“It’s another way to entice boaters to have their permanent moorage at Bremerton,” he said. “This would give them options to cruise the area and have weekends at other marinas at no cost.”

Wise said under the agreement he has negotiated, there will be no cost to the port for the arrangement and that permanent tenants at the other member marinas will still have to pay if they want to stay at Bremerton.

“It’s a one-way reciprocity agreement for the first year,” he said.

The aim is still to fill the Bremerton Marina. He said use of social media, some targeted advertising and hosting booths at boat shows will continue throughout his contract  which ends in mid 2014. Port staff will then take over those efforts.

Currently the Bremerton Marina has a 50 percent occupancy rate. At the height of the summer, it peaked at 60 percent.

“Even with that, we had 111 boats in the marina in December, as compared to 64 in December of 2012,” he said. “We’ve made excellent progress so far.”

In another matter, commissioners approved increases in guest moorage fees and in live-aboard fees at the Port Orchard and Bremerton marinas.

Guest moorage fees had not been raised since 2011 and the increase will mean another $25,140 for the port. Rates will increase from $30 to $36 per night with additional per-foot charges based on the size of boat and location.

Also approved was an increase of $15, from $60 to $75 per month, for live-aboard fees at the Port Orchard marina. That will bring in about $8,000 to the port. There has not been an increase in those rates since 2010.

Kathy Garcia, marina operations manager, told commissioners that even with the increases in rates, both marinas will be competitive with others in  the area.

Garcia also asked commissioners to allow her to have five additional live aboard spaces at the Port Orchard Marina. It currently has a waiting list.

Commissioners, however, opted to increase the number of live-a-boards at both Bremerton and Port Orchard to 30. Currently Port Orchard has 20 and is full. Bremerton allows 25 but has 17 filled. The increases are within the 10 percent maximums allowed by the Kitsap Health District.

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